Tuesday, April 23, 2024

BCD on new mission


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The Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) is moving to raise awareness about sexual reproductive health among youth, including those in the disabled community.To this end, the BCD had a poster launch on Tuesday, notably targeting young people who are involved in the BCD’s Peer Education Programme.The programme, funded by donations from the International Association of Lions Clubs, is in its second phase. Its main focus is to educate the youth with disabilities about sexual reproductive health, their rights regarding this and to guide them to make responsible decisions regarding their sexuality. At the launch, the administration project officer for the BCD, Rose-Ann Foster-Vaughan, explained that because many people did not recognise the importance of understanding the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), “HIV/AIDS and other controllable sexual diseases have spread at an alarming rate”.She said that this had “prompted” the BCD to partner with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to “create a programme that would heighten awareness of the need for sexual reproductive education for persons with disabilities”.Foster-Vaughan reported that the programme had started to “achieve its goals” because the council was embarking on extensive training programmes. The programmes would “attempt to remove the stigma attached to persons with disabilities seeking sexual counselling” because it is believed that it’s something they should not be involved in.The director for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Regional Office for the Caribbean, Dan Baker, explained that the UNFPA, “provided information and services to persons with disabilities to increase awareness of sexual reproductive health issues and rights”. UNFPA then implemented initiatives aimed at sensitising and equipping parents, health workers, social workers, peer educators, and guidance counsellors to “recognise human and reproductive rights and needs of adolescents with mental and physical disabilities”.He added that “advocacy is the key” and so the posters depicting disabled youth themselves would help share important messages with their peers on “the importance of safe sexual practices”.Baker explained that the launch “affords us an opportunity to ensure that disabled youth understand these rights and how it relates to them”.The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment, Urban and Rural Development, Sonja Welch, said: “HIV/AIDS knows no gender, colour, class, creed, or disability. It does not discriminate, and neither should we.” She explained: “The National Disabilities Unit must deal with not only disability and HIV/AIDS, but also the stigma and discrimination faced by persons with disabilities.” Welch explained that their programmes therefore tended to focus on “prevention and control”, which was done through a number of capacity-building workshops and interactive seminars.She added that the main aim of all these programmes was to “create awareness, encourage persons to examine what might be risky behaviours and to encourage them to change that behaviour”. (DG)


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